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5G Drones Arrive for Carriers

by Neil Mawston | Aug 25, 2021

Interesting to see Qualcomm this month announce the world's first 5G- and AI-enabled drone platform.

The Flight RB5 5G reference design boosts computer vision (CV) and blends autonomous apps and artificial intelligence with long-range connectivity or navigation by Wi-Fi 6 or optional 5G to extend your network edge more safely beyond the line of sight (BLOS).

Lots of great buzzwords... What they mean is, this readymade platform will make it easier for device makers or mobile operators to design and build autonomous 5G drones in 2022.

Verizon is already trialing the RB5 5G platform on its 5G network in the US. Use cases could include immersive live sports coverage (like golf), helicopter stadium shots, movies, TV entertainment, mapping, inspection, construction safety, defense, security, police drone swarms, emergency response, or home delivery.

Other players that may join the 5G drone bandwagon include Asia Pacific Telecom, AT&T, China Unicom, KT, LG Uplus, Taiwan Mobile, or Zyter.

Targets for buying 5G drones will be affluent tech geeks in major cities, small firms looking for a competitive edge (like real estate), or large enterprises with big sites to watch (such as construction).

Of course, the global drone market has been rather flat of late. Covid, costs, and ever stricter flying rules have not been kind to drones. This 5G innovation from Qualcomm is fairly niche for now, but a good shot in the arm for mobile operators who have been much starved of new drone action in recent years.

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